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compare and contrast essay

How to Write a Compare and Contrast Paper

When it comes to writing a compare and contrast essay, the most important piece of advice is to give yourself plenty of time to prepare. Prewriting takes time because this type of essay assumes deep analysis, which necessitates extensive research on multiple subjects.

Choose your topic carefully.

Begin preparing to write a contrasting and contrasting essay by selecting a topic that will inspire you. Choose from the suggestions made in the teacher’s guides. If the task is to come up with a unique topic on your own, use the following suggestions:

It is important to note that the topic will determine the direction of the analysis. As a result, it would be best if you chose your subject wisely.

If you are more visual than analytical, use mind mapping. Use a digital mind map from one of the many apps available on the Internet, or draw your ideas on a large piece of paper. The links between ideas will aid you in your analysis.

Make a list of key points on each subject, including minor details, and then highlight the similarities and differences between them while analyzing the data. This could also be one method for comparing and contrasting an essay.

Allow your mind to flow and awaken your subconscious for unexpected ideas by using a freewriting technique. To make the process more effective, choose a main topic to think about, such as the best TEDx speeches.

Conduct research

Looking for relevant information on a chosen topic is an important part of preparing to write a comparing and contrasting essay. The research process will take time because you will need to collect data from various sources for both subjects of your comparison.

Begin by making a list of actual sources and writing down all information you can easily access – for example, blogs, websites, books, magazines, and so on. If your topic necessitates further investigation and the use of rare data from closed libraries, make a separate list of these sources.

How to Begin a Contrast and Compare Essay

After you’ve decided on a method for organizing your essay, it’s time to start writing. What is your main point in the introduction?

You must present two topics that are contrasted or compared in a concise manner. Provide some context, but don’t get too caught up in the details, as they’ll be highlighted later. Complement your introduction with an effective thesis statement that introduces the reader to the topic and the argument. As an example:

Walmart and Safeway both offer a wide range of benefits, but Safeway is a far more appropriate option because it offers organic produce, environmentally friendly products, and special prices on a wide range of goods.

There are numerous effective ways to begin a compare and contrast essay. Our advice is to expand on the main thesis. This stage marks the transition from preparation to outlining and drafting.

Following the statement of a practical topic and the provision of research on both subjects of your paper, you will need to develop the core idea that will be highlighted in the text. Finding a relationship between two subjects of comparison is the best way to generate a main working thesis. It is important to note that the main thesis for a compare and contrast essay does not have to be brief. You can include 2-4 sentences and use them in your writing. Make sure you have enough evidence to back up your main statement/statements.

Outline for a Compare and Contrast Essay

Creating a compare and contrast essay outline is a critical step in the writing process. Here are the three main approaches to structuring an essay:


By comparing your subjects point by point, you will be able to easily define and represent their core aspects to readers. Each new paragraph must start with a new set of points. This method makes the essay interesting and informative.


The subject-by-subject approach is what you need if you want to build the comparison by highlighting the similarities and differences of each subject separately. Select this method to expose each side of both issues in turn.


This method presumes that you compare first, then contrast. This is the most commonly used approach among students. It allows you to concentrate on the differences between the subjects.

Follow the advice and writing tips below to create an effective compare and contrast essay outline. There are four things to think about:


A compare and contrast essay introduction must include the following elements: an introduction sentence with a bold statement, a rhetorical question, an unexpected fact, an anecdote, and so on. In the introduction, you must include mandatory information about the goals of writing this essay.

Finally, if you know how to write an introduction for a compare and contrast essay, you know that you must include a representation of both comparison subjects.

Paragraphs in the body

It’s time to get to the meat of the matter. As you may recall, there are two approaches to organizing your compare and contrast essay – let’s take a closer look at them and examine some examples.

Begin each body paragraph in block format with a topic sentence that draws the reader’s attention to a specific aspect of the first subject. Using Walmart as an example, your topic sentence might sound like this: Walmart is regarded as one of the most affordable supermarkets due to a wide variety of special offers and sales that are available on a regular basis. Create a theme based on the topic sentence, and write as many paragraphs as you need to cover all of the first topic’s aspects. However, keep in mind that using more than three aspects is not advised. Following a thorough discussion of the first subject, use the same structure to highlight the second.

Open each body paragraph in a point-by-point arrangement with a topic sentence that discusses a specific aspect in both topics and contrasts and compares the manifestation of the aspect in each topic. If you choose to use this format, your topic sentence could be something like this: In contrast to Safeway, which sells products that contain chemicals that are harmful to the environment, Walmart offers a wide range of special prices and sales. In each paragraph, expand on the topic sentence and provide several supporting arguments.


This section is optional, but it may be included in the paper if some opposing viewpoints are relevant to the topic. These arguments may have an impact on the goal of the writing; therefore, they must be included in the text. The acknowledgment’s closing points must lead to the final element of the outline, which is a conclusion.


The goal of a conclusion is to summarize the similarities and differences of both subjects. A summary must include the highlights and key facts. Do not include any new information. Your ideas for future essays or research are an exception.

Your conclusion should include three parts: a summary of the main points, a general evaluation or suggestion for future developments, and proof of the topic’s importance. Do not repeat any arguments or add any new information; instead, emphasize the significance of the provided differences or similarities and demonstrate their relevance to your thesis. For example, Walmart, with its wide range of special prices, is a more appropriate place to shop than Safeway.

When you’ve finished outlining your paper, pay close attention to the compare and contrast essay format.

In most cases, the teacher specifies formatting requirements in the instructions. Take note of the format required: APA, MLA, or Chicago/Turabian. You may receive lower grades if you do not pay close attention to the comparing and contrasting essay format.

Writing a Compare and Contrast Essay in Stages

You now understand all of the fundamental theories for writing an effective compare and contrast essay. It’s time to open a new file in your preferred text editor and start typing. To write an outstanding essay, follow this step-by-step guide:

Consider the subject thoroughly. The first step toward writing an effective compare and contrast essay is to conduct research, review the available topics, and select two subjects for further investigation.

Make a list of aspects that should be compared. It can be used to evaluate your topics and develop an argument. Can’t find the similarities and differences on your own? Making a Venn diagram will assist you!

Make a central statement out of the key points. Create an effective argument based on the evaluation of two topics and transform it into your thesis sentence. You should explain whether your chosen subjects extend, complicate, correct, contradict, corroborate, or debate one another. Because the thesis is such an important part of the paper, you should explain which subject is better or worse and why in this sentence. Remember to include the factors used to evaluate the topics, as shown in the example below: Most notably, classical music and jazz differ in tempo, playing style, audience, and purpose, but the two share a close relationship in that they both satisfy human aesthetic needs in high-quality music.

Work on the paper’s foundation: the outline. Draw the most important points from your list of similarities and differences, as well as your thesis statement.

Fill in the blanks with textual details to round out the outline. After you’ve finished your outline, you should simply back up each point with evidence from the publications you’ve read or the findings of your own research and experience.

Make an introduction. It should include the hook sentence (outstanding beginning) as well as background information on the topic of your choice. In the final sentence of the introductory paragraph, include your thesis statement.

Depending on the purpose of the paper, choose the structure for arranging the arguments in the main body. For example, if you want to look into the differences and similarities between topics in general, a block arrangement will be more useful. However, if you want to concentrate on the details and compare them between two topics, a point-by-point arrangement is the best choice.

Write body paragraphs in accordance with the structure you’ve chosen. Return to the outline provided above and simply follow all of the points mentioned. Topic sentences should not be overlooked: they are equally important in any structure type.

Proofread and edit. Though students frequently skip this step, we strongly advise you to set aside some time to proofread the paper. Avoid using colloquial language, as the way you speak in everyday situations should never be reflected in your academic papers.

Guidelines and Essay Tightening

Coming up with an awesome topic on the spur of the moment can be difficult, so here are some examples of topics that are a good fit for this type of academic writing.

Which type of educational institution provides a higher quality of education, private or public?

Compare and contrast the advantages and disadvantages of soda water and energy drinks.

Living in the city vs. living on the farm: contrast modern trends with those of the past.

Being a manager vs. being a leader: compare and contrast their roles and characteristics.

Some Additional Compare and Contrast PaperTopics

We understand that coming up with topics for compare and contrast essays is difficult. As a result, we want to assist you with a variety of practical and correctly stated issues. Here are some suggestions for you:

Contrast the first and second missions to the Moon.

What parallels exist between the worlds before and after 2020?

What is the connection between Star Trek and Star Wars?

What are the differences and similarities between in-person and texting conversations?

Compare and contrast the effects of exercise and dieting on a person’s weight.

Discover the parallels and differences between Apple TV and Netflix.

Contrast the preconditions of World War I and World War II.

What are the similarities between agoraphobia and claustrophobia?

Contrast the Ego and the Superego.

What are the distinctions and similarities between autism and Down syndrome?

Avoiding Mistakes When Writing a Compare and Contrast Essay

After you’ve completed all of your preparations, it’s time to start writing. Oh, there’s one more thing to think about before you begin: the following is a list of mistakes to avoid in advance. Make certain that you do not:

Begin the paper without a specific idea in mind. This is the most obvious error because it affects the logical organization of the ideas and can leave your paper with no significant results from comparing and contrasting.

Make an attempt to connect two organizational methods. The structure is the most important aspect of any compare and contrast essay. Before writing, decide whether to use a block or point-by-point arrangement.

Fail to choose a suitable topic. Make sure your topic is specific enough to give you a broad field for analysis and comparison. Choose topics that are not widely discussed, as it will be difficult to avoid plagiarism in your paper.

Make a case for a subjective point of view. Even if you are certain that one item is significantly superior to the other, you should use relevant facts to support your position while remaining objective.

Select two comparable subjects for comparison. It makes no difference whether your items are similarly good, bad, beneficial, or harmful; however, if they are truly equal, determining which is superior would be a real challenge.

Don’t forget to connect the ideas with transitional words. Connectives serve very specific functions in a compare and contrast essay: they not only make the flow of ideas logical, but they also assist the writer in shifting the focus from one point to the other.

Ignore academic style requirements. Remember that your essay should be written in a formal language (no slang or conversational expressions), free of plagiarism, and free of grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors.

Checklist for Writing a Compare and Contrast Paper

Finally, before you submit your paper, go over a quick checklist to ensure that everything is in order.

– Have you provided some context for the topics being compared or contrasted?

– Is your background information accurate and succinct?

– Did you incorporate the thesis statement into the final sentence of the introduction? Is there an argument in your thesis that you want to defend?

– Have you used evidence to back up each idea in the body paragraphs?

– Have you chosen and followed a proper method for idea arrangement (point-by-point or block)?

– Does your method of organizing ideas match the example in the outline?

– Do you have three key components in your conclusion: a summary of the main points, a general evaluation of the topics, and the significance of the comparison and contrast?

– Do the findings of your investigation have any practical value and meet the needs of the target audience?

Example of a Compare and Contrast Paper to See the Structure

We have prepared the following text to assist you in understanding the fundamental principles of writing such essays. You can also look at this excellent example of a compare and contrast essay on our blog.

Face-to-Face Learning vs. Online Learning

Over the last two decades, internet-based technological advances have transformed the academic world by developing online learning methods that effectively reduce significant barriers that previously hampered access to higher education by promoting a more affordable and accommodating alternative to traditional learning (Hurlbut 249). Traditional or face-to-face instruction is still widely regarded as the gold-standard method of education, with educators assuming that there are significant differences in the quality and outcomes of online instruction and learning compared to traditional education (Hurlbut 249). Contrary to the assumption that face-to-face instruction promotes superior quality and academic outcomes, research has consistently found that students enrolled in online courses perform equally well or better than students enrolled in face-to-face classes, with researchers predicting that this trend will continue to grow over time (Hurlbut 249; Shachar and Neumann 326; Wu 9).

For more than 20 years, the debate over traditional versus online learning as the preferred method of education has raged on, with each successful finding posing new challenges and considerations for each method (Hurlbut 251). Researchers have found that, on average, there is little difference between the method of instruction and academic achievement after closely examining research on these methods and academic outcomes (251). Other researchers have discovered that students enrolled in online courses outperform their counterparts enrolled in traditional courses on a regular basis. According to researchers, this trend will continue over the next decade as colleges and universities incorporate more online delivery methods into their curricula (Hurlbut 248; Shachar and Neumann 326; Wu 9).

Nonetheless, most empirical research has found no significant differences in academic outcomes between face-to-face and online students, implying that unobserved factors may significantly affect student performance and educational outcomes regardless of course delivery method. The student’s self-regulatory processes, or the student’s psychological, motivational, and behavioral processes used to achieve a specific academic goal, are a primary factor that has been significantly correlated to student success for both online and face-to-face instructional formats (Wandler and Imbriale 1).

A student who actively engages in self-regulation processes considers how they learn and which strategies will be most effective in achieving academic success goals (Wandler and Imbriale 1). For example, a student who engages in self-regulation processes can effectively manage their time to complete a task, use specific strategies to complete the task, and seek assistance from others if necessary (1). Students with limited self-regulation skills, on the other hand, may fail to recognize the importance of time management, organization, or help-seeking strategies, which has a significant impact on the student’s performance and ability to succeed (Wandler and Imbriale 2).

Internet-based education programs have revolutionized the higher education system since their inception more than 20 years ago, providing a more affordable and accommodating alternative to traditional or face-to-face instructional methods. The debate over which method of instruction is superior in terms of facilitating higher student performance and academic achievement has resulted in extensive research, which has consistently found that students enrolled in online courses performed as well as or better than their counterparts enrolled in face-to-face instructional formats. As a result, it is critical to move away from deciding which method of instruction is better or worse and instead provide students with the skills and strategies they need to thrive regardless of the method of instruction.


“Online vs. Traditional Learning in Teacher Education: A Comparison of Student Progress,” Amanda Hurlbut. American Journal of Distance Education, Vol. 32, No. 4, 2021, pp. 248–266.

Mickey Schachar and Yoram Neumann “Twenty Years of Research on Academic Performance Differences Between Traditional and Distance Learning: Summative Meta-Analysis and Trend Analysis.” 318-334.10.12691, MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 6.2 (2010).

“Promoting College Student Self-Regulation in Online Learning Environments,” by Jacob Wandler and William Imbriale. 10.24059/olj.v21i2.881. Journal of Online Learning 21.2 (2021): 1–16.

“Online Learning in Postsecondary Education: A Review of the Empirical Literature (2013-2014),” D. Derek Wu. Ithaka Strategies and Research

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